If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

If You Ask Me
by Eleanor Roosevelt

October 1951


Did you ever say "We can run this United Nations without God?" I saw this statement in the paper and was very shocked.

I never made any such idiotic statement. I have had two or three questions on this in letters, and I have been sent a copy of a column written by a woman in the Middle West which makes this statement as a fact. Where the lady got the idea, or who originated the statement, I am at a loss to know, but I can say it is totally untrue.


This is a very personal question, but I am wondering if you would mind telling me if you have a fixed or removable bridge? I am very much interested, as I will shortly have to have two of my front teeth removed and would love to have them look as good as yours.

I have no fixed or removable bridge. My two front teeth are capped on the original teeth, which were not completely knocked out but were chipped and broken.


Your statement that the Senate crime hearing turned up nothing to make you believe that former mayor William O'Dwyer was "personally dishonest" is more than I can swallow. Now, Mrs. Roosevelt, what do you mean by "personally" dishonest?

By "personal" dishonesty I meant an individual in public office acting for his own gain through a transaction which profits him personally or which disposes of public money illegally. I think there are people in public office who are perfectly honest in this respect but who overlook questionable dealings in the political world. They think perhaps that it is not possible to fight against these dealings, and so they close their eyes to them. Mayor O'Dwyer may have done the latter, but I do not think he used public money illegally or received any money which was personally advantageous.


I had an argument with a friend. She says you love being a public figure and Mrs. Truman hates it. I've always thought you hated it too. Am I right?

I disliked it extremely at first. Now I never think of it any more, and I do not think of myself as a public figure. I know that people sometimes recognize me, but I never expect it, so it has ceased to bother me.


When you were a little girl what did you most want to be when you grew up?

First, I wanted above all to be a trained nurse. Later, above all I wanted to be able to sing and have a beautiful voice which would move people. I achieved the first ambition when my children were small. I became a good nurse under the direction of a real trained nurse who spent a great deal of time with me in those days. I never achieved the second desire, not having been gifted with any voice at all.


I understand that plans for a movie of your husband's life have been delayed because they can't find anyone to play the part. Don't you think the English actor Stewart Granger might be good to play Mr. Roosevelt as a young man?

I think a movie of my husband's life has been delayed not because of difficulty in casting but because I personally feel that as long as so many people are alive who remember him well it would not be a successful or happy thing to do. I know that when I saw the movie about President Wilson I did not enjoy it. In fact I disliked it—and that was because I remembered him. I think it is always better to wait until those who have known him well are no longer alive before you try to reproduce a person on the stage or screen.


In one of your photographs I noticed you were wearing rings on both hands. Do these rings have any special significance?

I very rarely wear any jewelry which has no significance. On my left hand I wear my wedding ring and engagement ring, and on my little finger I wear two rings given me by friends of whom I am very fond. That same thing is true of the rings I wear on my right hand. One of them was given me by a friend to wear as long as I live. The stone in the other ring was also a gift. I had it set in a way that I thought this friend who gave it to me would like. I do not think jewelry has much meaning unless you have some sentiment attached to it.


Who was your husband's favorite movie star?

If he had actually named his favorite movie star, which he never did, I think it would have been Mickey Mouse!


An article in McCall's says any woman would gladly change her face for Garbo's. I, for one, would not. Would you?

No, I do not think I should particularly want to change and look like Garbo or anybody else. That does not mean that I do not admire many people and wish that the good Lord had made me as attractive as they are in looks; but once you have spent sixty years with your face it does, I think, express something of what you have made of yourself, so it would seem unnatural to change to anybody else!

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About this document

If You Ask Me, October 1951

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
[ ERPP bio | VIAF | WorldCat | DPLA | SNAC ]

McCall's, volume 79, October 1951

Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

Digital edition published 2014, 2016 by
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
The George Washington University
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Washington, DC 20052